Play and the exhibition: the problematic fun of showcasing of videogames in informal and formal contexts

Gregor White*, Lynn H. C. Love, Clare Brennan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

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Video games are inherently problematic as cultural artefacts, presenting issues of stability, currency, interaction and participation (to name but a few) in their curation. These issues are not necessarily unique to video games in an exhibition context, but their combination with the on-going debate about the status of video games as an art form inspire discussion and debate. Despite the issues presented by video games, there have been countless video game exhibitions in formal and informal contexts, typically focussing upon the historical narrative around games or their position as artefacts with cultural value. It is only in the last few years that artistic and academic study of this problematic field has developed traction, through both an emerging body of literature looking to formalise video games exhibitions practices and practitioner debate. 2019 sees the inaugural Game Arts International Assembly “a think tank for the international games arts ecosystem” bringing together leading curators and makers working at the forefront of public display of interactive arts and playful media.

This paper contributes to the developing body of knowledge which analyses video games exhibition methods by formalising and evaluating the methods utilised within informal and formal contexts of video games exhibition from the perspective of reception theory. The study of both large scale exhibition such as those orchestrated by the Victoria and Albert museum and the Smithsonian American Art Museum alongside the one night indie game night or play party is a unique contribution to the field, with studies typically focussing on approaches within one given context. Reception theory provides a lens through which the active participative role of the attendee or visitor in meaning making can be evaluated and allows consideration of the connection between selected methods of exhibition and the resulting meaning making opportunities possible for a range of potential audiences.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of EVA London 2020
EditorsJon Weinel, Jonathan P. Bowen, Graham Diprose, Nick Lambert
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherBCS Learning & Development Ltd.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9781780175386
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2020
EventEVA London 2020: AI and the Arts: Artificial Imagination - BCS London office, 25 Copthall Avenue, London, United Kingdom
Duration: 6 Jul 20209 Jul 2020
Conference number: 30th

Publication series

NameElectronic Workshops in Computing (eWiC)
PublisherBCS Learning and Development Ltd
ISSN (Print)1477-9358


ConferenceEVA London 2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
City London
OtherInternational Electronic Visualisation & the Arts conference
Internet address


  • Videogames
  • Exhibition methods
  • Reception theory
  • Co-participation in meaning-making


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